The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun
|"The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun"|
|Song by Julie Brown|
|Released||February 2, 1985|
|A-side||"I Like 'em Big and Stupid"|
|Writer||Julie Brown, Charlie Coffey, Ray Colcord, Terrence E. McNally|
The song and music video—both released more than a decade before school shootings became well known events— revolve around a teenaged Valley girl's oblivious recounting of how her best friend, Debi, who upon being crowned homecoming queen unexpectedly pulled out a weapon and began indiscriminately killing classmates and teachers at the parade. In the end, Debi is shot by police and confesses before she dies that she "did it for Johnny", leaving her friend to ponder whether she means a nerdy classmate that always had food stuck in his braces; the queen's bouquet in the music video has the words 'Debi, I love you, Johnny' written on a label. The narrator compares the unrevealed identity of "Johnny" to "Rosebud" in Citizen Kane, observing, "It's like that movie Citizen Kane, you know, where you later find out that 'Rosebud' is his sled? / But we'll never know who Johnny was, 'cause, like, she's dead!" The censored version of the song changes the line "I almost wet my jeans" to "I almost ripped my seam", "It's like the whole school was totally coked or something" became the non-rhyming "I mean, like, it made me really proud to be a teenager!" and "Are you having a really bad period?" became "You'll get suspended if you don't quit it".
The song appeared as a B-side to Brown's single "I Like 'em Big and Stupid", and took off after being played frequently on the Dr. Demento Show. As a result, "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" is remembered better than the A-side of that single, turning into what music critic Jonathan Taylor called "one of the most delightfully silly singles and videos of the past few years." A re-recorded dance version appeared as a B-side to Brown's 2005 single "I Want to Be Gay", 21 years after the original was released.
The song was ranked No. 324 in the KROQ-FM Flashback 500 of 1996, and No. 488 in the KROQ Flashback 500 of 1988. It was part of a special by the Australian national radio station Triple J on school songs in 2001. "The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun" also appears on the Rhino Records compilation album Dr. Demento 20th Anniversary Collection as well as in a 1985 compilation called Teenage Tragedy that included non-comic songs of the genre Brown was satirizing. At least one reviewer cited the song as evidence of a sea change in novelty songs, observing: "The songs got sicker and more nihilistic. In 1960, a pretty girl wore an 'Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini'; in 1985, a pretty girl in Julie Brown's cult classic "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" grabs a machine gun and does a Rambo on most of the senior class."
Brown admitted in a July 2000 interview that for months after the Columbine High School massacre she no longer felt comfortable performing "Homecoming Queen", even though the circumstances of the song were quite different from the real-life case and it had been comic at the time of its debut. "I can be very sensitive about whether I am doing something that will hurt people," Brown said. "So you are always drawing the comedy line of what you will or won't do."
In October 2008, Brown released a re-written version of the song entitled "The Ex-Beauty Queen's Got a Gun" which parodies Sarah Palin and the McCain–Palin bid for election in 2008. Available digitally only, the low-budget recording has Brown singing new lyrics over a previously released karaoke version of the original song. As such, the prerecorded backing vocals sing original lyrics that don't match the new lyrics.
- Joe Cobb. "Sounds" (album reviews column), Boston Globe, February 14, 1985, Calendar section, page 7.
- Don Edwards. "'50s not all 'Happy Days' for Bo Diddley", Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, July 8, 1985, page C3: "For a second [Diddley] watched a Home Box Office video, a sadistic parody of 1950s' rock 'n' roll with a song that went: 'Everybody run - the homecoming queen's got a gun ...' Then he turned the dial ... ."
- Rick Bentley. "Mall mining: strip malls are a rich comic vein for Julie Brown's new TV series," Fresno Bee, June 22, 2000, page E3.
- Calvin Gilbert. "More jazz, gospel themes on Poetic Champions" (album reviews), The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), October 2, 1987, "Fun" section, page 2: "Julie Brown is more about comedy than music. The best song title, 'The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun,' is not much more than a 'valley girl' description of what happened that night at the prom."
- Jonathan Taylor. "Insiders, outsiders can learn the business at music symposium," Daily News of Los Angeles, L.A. Life section, page 22: "Julie Brown, who created one of the most delightfully silly singles and videos of the past few years with 'The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun,' is making the leap to the big screen."
- "KROQ Flashback 500 (1988)". Rocklists.com. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
- "KROQ Flashback 500 (1996)". Rocklists.com. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
- "Triple J Music specials - J FILES: School Songs". Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Triple J. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
- Joe Brown. "Girls just wanna rock on (album reviews)," Washington Post Weekend section, January 25, 1985, page 43.
- Phil Kloer. "Tracking -- record reviews -- novelty," The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, November 23, 1985, L28.